Dress Code/Legendary Style
An essential, a staple, and must-haves.
These are the timeless pieces that make up every well-dressed wardrobe.
Popularized by rebels, rock stars, actors, athletes and politicians. No longer reserved for the counterculture and trendsetters, these pieces now sit proudly, without association, in the wardrobes of the most stylish individuals across the world.
Anyone can make a pair of blue jeans, but Levi Strauss & Co. is the only one who can lay claim to making the first blue jeans. In 1873, they designed the blue jean that started it all. One of the most important pieces in a person’s wardrobe today, the blue jean is one of the only items of clothing to survive from its creation in the 19th century to the 21st century almost totally unchanged. They may not have invented the cut or fit of the overalls, but what they did do was take the traditional men’s work trousers and rivet them, creating an entirely new category of workwear.
The Levi’s 501 leaped to attention during the renowned airing of the “501 Blues” television advertising campaign during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The commercial in question featured a young Nick Kamen (a forefather of Ray Petri’s Buffalo collective) along with Jean-Baptiste Mondino, his brother Barry Kamen, and Mark Lebon stripping down to just a pair of white Sunspel boxers in the middle of a mid-town launderette, to the backdrop of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” This marked the first of a series of Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertisements that dramatically increased the popularity of Levi’s 501s. The commercial, directed by Roger Lyons, serves as a reminder of the rebellious nature from which the 501 stemmed.
From adorning the lower halves of those protesting against the Vietnam War, to young men and women wearing 501s while protesting for civil rights in the ‘60s to show their solidarity for the working classes, to iconic images of the fall of the Berlin Wall where yet again one is met with a wave of blue-jean-clad youth wearing nothing but 501s; they were a sign of solidarity as much as rebellion.
One of the most iconic sunglasses brands in the world, few have held such a celebrated place in culture and history as Ray-Ban. Founded by Bausch & Lomb in 1937, the first Ray-Ban sunglasses were made for the U.S. Army Air Corps, which was looking for a design to protect its pilots from the glare of the sun while flying. Broader popularity was garnered when, during WWII, General Douglas MacArthur was photographed in his Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses landing on the beach in the Philippines. Thus the Ray-Ban ‘Aviator’ was born – its heroic status a symbol of classic American culture.
It was not long after the success of the Aviator that the style we now know of today as the Wayfarer swiftly followed suit. In 1952, Ray-Ban broke away from traditional metal frames and created the hard plastic frame, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, a revolutionary advancement from earlier sunglass styles. With the newly-available plastic molding technology of that decade, Ray-Ban became one of the first companies to ditch metal-framed sunglasses and employ this new material to its design advantage. They have been dubbed the best-selling sunglasses of all time; and since its introduction in the ‘50s, the Wayfarer style has been adopted by countless designers. No other brand styles, however, can be more aligned with pop culture than Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer sunglasses designed by Bausch & Lomb’s optical designer Raymond Stegeman.
Now considered a radical moment in eyewear design, the Wayfarer quickly garnered popularity among both the fringe and the well-heeled, seamlessly crossing cultural and socioeconomic borders that few before had ever managed to achieve.
Similar to its predecessor, the Aviator, the Wayfarer was originally designed and marketed as sunglasses for pilots; but there was something about the style of these glasses that captured the imagination of the masses who were looking for something to add a touch of rebellion to their look. Design critic Stephen Bayley states that the “distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a nonverbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness.” It was this gestural rebellion that so appealed to stars of the ‘60s from both music and film. From iconic rebels such as James Dean and Andy Warhol to style icon and much-beloved U.S. President John F. Kennedy all wearing the frames during the ‘60s, it was this cultural crossover that lead to such widespread appeal.
During the 1970s the Wayfarer experienced a brief demise when the round lenses of John Lennon took the front seat in desired sunglass designs. Despite almost being discontinued altogether after this downward turn, Ray-Ban managed to secure a deal in 1982 with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, which placed Ray-Bans in movies and television programs and promptly reignited their popularity – these were the years of The Blues Brothers and Risky Business. They rose to further popularity again through the idolization of key members of the music industry, with musicians such as Debbie Harry and Morrissey wearing them with the style and panache that only the wearer of such a lens will understand. They stood for rock and roll, they stood for rebellion, and they oozed cool factor.
It goes without saying that Ray-Ban has left an ineradicable mark on cultural history. Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Ray-Ban Wayfarers were the frames of choice for everyone from Bob Dylan to Andy Warhol, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Roy Orbison, John Lennon, and endless teenagers across the globe who wanted to look as cool and rebellious as their idols.
Ray-Ban was, and still is, one of the must-have brands in film. The Ray-Ban Wayfarer took pride of placement on the stars of The Blues Brothers (1980), Risky Business (1983) and Top Gun (1986). In music, Michael Jackson donned a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers for his legendary Bad tour, which ran from 1987 to 1989 and became the highest-attended tour in history.
From presidents to movie stars, rock stars to artists, fashion designers to runway models, there’s not a generation or cultural group who hasn’t, at some point, bestowed a pair of these legendary sunglasses.
A classic garment, which – like denim or fine wine – just gets better with age.
Like many of life’s great inventions, it was a single stroke of genius that led to the creation of one of the most enduring outerwear icons – the biker jacket. In 1928, Irving Schott, co-founder of the New York City-based outerwear company the Schott Bros., designed and produced the first leather motorcycle jacket with a zipper. He named it the Perfecto, after his favorite cigar.
A shield against the elements (replacing the less efficient button-down motorcycle jackets of the time), this important new silver feature, with its asymmetric positioning, also allowed motorcyclists to lean over their bikes without cutting into the body. The original jacket featured a cropped, snug fit, with a D-pocket and lapels designed to snap down or fold over each other and zip all the way up. Stocked by a Long Island-based Harley-Davidson distributor, the streamlined, rugged garment – then honed from goatskin, cowhide or horsehide – was an instant hit with a new generation of bikers. Though other brands such as Sears and Harley-Davidson went on to base biker jacket designs on the garment, the Perfecto is a registered trademark of Schott N.Y.C.
With its cult street appeal, the emblematic garment’s journey from the highway to the runway was inevitable, with among the most notorious interpretations the beat-inspired alligator version designed by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior in 1960, which reportedly didn’t go down well with management.
The biker trend peaked in the 1980s, with a bigger fit on the shoulders and arms (much like Michael Jackson’s red leather Thriller number), though the recent heritage trend has seen a strong resurgence in demand for the jacket which today enjoys a multi-generational appeal.
Remarkably, over its 86-year history the Perfecto’s original design has pretty much remained intact, bar tweaks on fit and a few added features to give extra range of motion, such as underarm footballs and the bi-swing back. “The Perfecto’s initial design was purely functional. It was practical for motorcyclists in 1928 and it still is today. Thus, its construction and various design elements endure, not as stylistic choices of one particular decade, but as symbols of the open road and the various subcultural groups who have since adopted the jacket.”
The perfect choice for those times when you want to add an effortless element of masculinity to your ensemble; a leather jacket is as timeless as it gets.